Calendar Girls December: Christmahanakwanza-Best Diverse Cast

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

I’m thrilled with this month’s category for Calendar Girls – it’s the one I voted for!  Diversity in YA books has made some significant strides over the past few years, but don’t be fooled – we still have a long way to go.  I’ve read some wonderfully diverse books, but I’m limiting my choices to those I’ve completed this year.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee:  Although released a couple years ago, I just got around to reading it a few months ago – and it’s my loss for waiting so long.  Such charming characters, and Monty, flaws and all, will always hold a special place in my heart.  As he would totally expect.  With racial diversity and LGBTQ characters, this is at the top of my favorite reads this year.

Pax Novis by Erica Cameron: With asexual and nonbinary, among other LGBTQ characters, Pax Novis boasts outstanding representation.  The author even took it a step further by creating a third gender pronoun.  I stumbled over the terminology (ze, zem, zir) a bit at first, but barely noticed it after a couple chapters.

 

But the winner was the first book that came to mind and in my top five reads of this year.  Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  With a crew that includes a character with a disability, an autistic character, racially diverse (including aliens, lol!), and LGBTQ characters, Aurora Rising offers a wide expanse of representation.  I fell hard for these relatable and fully-developed characters, and their banter had me laughing out loud several times.

If you haven’t read any of these books and are looking for more diverse reading material, I strongly recommend all of them.  Add them to your TBR!

 

 

Calendar Girls: Eleven (Strangest Book You’ve Ever Read)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

With Bad Moon Rising and other life stuff, it’s been months since I’ve participated in Calendar Girls, and I’ve missed it.  But I’m back – yay!

This category nearly stumped me.  I read mainly sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, so I’ve come across all kinds of strange things, but considering the genres, that kind of goes with the territory.  So they’re not really that strange.  To me, anyway.  Nothing immediately came to mind, so I had to go back to my Goodreads lists for the past few years.  When I finally came across it, I knew.  My choice is Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Dark Matter wasn’t strange in a bad way, but it’s a book I gobbled up in less than a day.  Over three years later, it’s stuck with me.  It was mind-blowing, intense, and a stunning blend of of sci-fi, suspense, thriller and, believe it or not – romance.  I can’t say much more about it without spoilers, but for sci-fi fans, it’s absolutely a must read.  It’s been optioned for a movie by Sony, but who knows if it will ever get made.  Below is the book description – but if you’re participating in NaNo, don’t even try reading it this month.  You’ll never meet your goal!

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

 

 

Calendar Girls: Book Lover’s Day (Favorite Book I’ve Read This Year) #amreading

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

I voted for this theme, but narrowing it down to one book will be a difficult choice.  To make this decision, I visited my reading challenge on Goodreads and reviewed what I’ve read this year so far.  According to that site, I’ve read 49 books (I’m 4 behind), but I came up with a few choices.

Early in the year, I read To Best the Boys by Mary Weber.  Rhen was an intelligent, compassionate, and driven protagonist.  She knew what she wanted and refused to compromise her dreams to fit society’s expectations.  The challenges she met while navigating the dangerous labyrinth kept me glued to this book.

I didn’t know what to expect from Killing November by Adriana Mather.  The cover didn’t appeal to me, but the description was crazy good, and the book hooked me immediately.  With fabulous character development, political intrigue, a complex, thrilling plot, and a main character whose life was in jeopardy on nearly every page, it was one of my best reads this year.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee was such a pleasure to read – humor, adventure, tons of quotable lines.  Despite Monty being narcissistic, oblivious, and generally a danger to himself and others with his actions, he was so freaking charming, I became a confirmed fan of his.

It was a tough decision, but I’ll have to go with Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.  It’s rare, but in the first several pages, I knew this was a 5 star read – seven diverse characters I fell in love with, humorous banter between them that kept me laughing, action, death-defying moments, and a tension-filled heist.  The story leans heavily on themes of family, friendship, faith, and finding your crew.  I can’t wait to get my hands on book two.

Calendar Girls: Summer Lovin’ (Bookish OTP)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

 

Before we get started, I’ll be late getting to comments today, or maybe even tomorrow.  We’re moving the youngest son into his college apartment today.  In 90+ degree weather.  To the 3rd floor.  In a building with no elevator.  Yay.

I missed out on Calendar Girls over the past couple of months, so I’m glad to be back on track again.  When I saw this theme, that song from Grease immediately started playing in my head – and I bet it’s in yours now.  You’re welcome.  You guys know I’m not one for much romance in my reading, but yes, there are definitely some couples I shipped.  Below are a few that immediately came to mind.

Adam and Ronan from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  These guys couldn’t be more different – but from the second I had an inkling there was something more than friendship brewing between them, it just seemed right.  And when Stiefvater’s new book, Call Down the Hawk, is released, readers will see how their relationship has developed.  I can’t wait!

Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley.  I’m sure you guys know the book these characters come from.  With Harry’s tragic past and his horrible living conditions with the Dursleys, I hoped he’d find a stable, loving home and a family of his own.  When the Weasleys welcomed him into their lives (Molly is just the perfect mom), I wanted him to become an official part of their family.  And Ginny’s crush on him from early in the series was just adorable.

But my favorite OTP has to be Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows.  The two of them have tragic pasts that left them broken, but they never give up.  This quote from Kaz sums up their relationship perfectly, and just melted my heart when I read it.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.” 

 

Calendar Girls: April Fool’s Day (Favorite Book With a Surprise Ending or Twist)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

Happy April Fool’s Day!  I’ve certainly read my share of books with a surprise ending or twist.  And I’m a confirmed fan – but I’ve read so many books that it’s kind of difficult to catch me off guard or to throw in a twist I didn’t see coming.  That being said, some have succeeded, and when I learned the theme for April, three books immediately jumped to mind.

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis.  I won’t say exactly what this character did that was so surprising, but trust me when I say it was completely unexpected and shocking.  Upon meeting the author, I had to ask where she’d gotten the idea for it, and told her how much I loved the twist.

 

 

 

Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff.  With the revelations and twists in the last part of this book, I felt like my head had been put in a blender and pureed.  I never had an inkling – not a single clue of what was coming.  And the sequel will be released soon!

 

 

 

But the book I have to go with is The Empress by S.J. Kincaid.  The twists in this book were soul-crushing and infuriating.  I went through bouts of happiness, rage, frustration, hopelessness.  It’s the first novel I’ve ever had to set down and walk away from for a period of time – my reaction was that strong.  I read this book in 2017, and a part of my soul has died a little each day that I have to wait for the next book in the series – which is scheduled for sometime this summer.  Maybe I’ll have a shred of soul left by then.

Calendar Girls: Women’s History Month (Favorite Book With a Strong Female Lead)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

Strong female leads – I’ve read my share, and there are loads out there to choose from.  Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games is an obvious choice, and so is Starr from The Hate U Give (my Calendar Girls selection from last month), but for different reasons.  Nemesis from S.J. Kincaid’s Diabolic series is the epitome of a strong female lead, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  The things she’s had to deal with would break most people.  The cliffhanger at the end of the second book in that series nearly broke me.

But I decided to go with a character from a book I recently finished – Rhen Tellur from To Best The Boys.  She lives in a world where girls are taught how to make good wives, rather given a traditional education and encouragement to pursue their own dreams.  Being exceptionally intelligent and gifted in science, Rhen’s says, ‘Screw that’, and makes different plans for her future.  She poses as a boy, enters an all male competition to win a scholarship, and throws society’s expectations of her right back at their faces.  Rhen doesn’t allow anyone else to dictate who she is, what her dreams should be, or how she can achieve them.  Girl power!

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

 

Calendar Girls: Black History Month (Best Book by a Black Author)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

To narrow this down, I’m sticking with YA books I’ve read in the past year.  Recently I reviewed Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (review).  I loved the zombie-added alternate history take by this author, and Jane, her intelligent, snarky protagonist stole my heart.  Pride by Ibi Zoboi is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, probably my favorite Jane Austen novel.  The modernized version of this story intrigued me – unfortunately, I only read a 5 chapter sampler, and I’ve never been able to get back to the book.  But I plan to!  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi has received exceptional reviews.  It’s been in my TBR for a while, and I’ll be reading it for my book club in a couple of months.  If I’d had been more caught up, I’m sure it would be at the top of my list.

My choice will probably be a popular one, but The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas had such a profound effect on me.  It’s crucial, timely, powerful, honest, uncomfortable, gut-wrenching – and should be required reading.  I’m thrilled Angie Thomas will be at our local book festival in April, where I’ll be able to meet her and get a signed copy of her new book, On the Come Up.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.